© Raymond May 2009
Tips for successful interviewing
OK your resume and cover letter were good enough to get you the interview! Can you get to the next step? Here are some thoughts to help you through the interview.
Rule 1. It is all about them, the hiring company, not about you.
They will only hire you if they believe that you will bring a benefit.
So work out how to convey how you can help the company! What benefit do you add! This could be a direct experience, could be local knowledge, you could be local and will not relocate later, could be many things, just do your best to identify what will hold you above the rest.
Companies are getting 100’s of resume for each job search, most are not qualified, and why are you qualified? Make it clear in your cover letter. I say “why can’t they read?” meaning why did you send a resume for this job? Most applicants are not qualified; it is all based on HOPE. If you are not qualified you will not get a response, but if you are – make sure it is clear! Why are you QUALIFIED?
If you don’t know what the company is looking for, why are you applying? (The “I was over qualified” excuse is over done!)
Rule 2. Keep it relevant at all times.
For example, how would you answer the classic icebreaker question? “Tell me about yourself?”
It is very easy to get off topic and just go wide. There are only two ways to answer this question. The first is to answer it with another question – make the interviewer do some work and actual ask what they want answered! So the question would sound like “what specially would you want to know about me?” Alternatively you could answer it with a personal marketing statement. Always have a short marketing statement prepared.
This is what it looks like, prepare a 3 part statement:Part 1 – One sentence summary of career to date.Part 2 – Accomplishment you are proud of that will capture the employer’s attention. (“while I was at ….)Part 3 – One sentence summary of what you want to do next in your career.
All employers are looking for the same three things:Skills, Experience and Stability
Make sure all your answer help the interview answer one of the three things!
Don’t ramble. Keep the length of your answers not too short and not too long, but just right. Don’t bore the interviewer!
Rule 3. Focus on personal accomplishments to highlight benefits you bring. Avoid general statements.
Prepare a list of as many accomplishments as you can come up with. Write these up in short paragraphs. You are going to get many questions in interviews that are skill, knowledge or behavioral based. For example, what’s the most difficult situation you ever faced on a job?Answer questions with examples, so you will be glad you did your homework. Remember rule 1 – it is all about them, how do you benefit them? How do your previous accomplishments and experiences benefit them?
Structure your answers using the STAR method:
“I was in this situation, I was given this task, I took the following actions and result was…”See how all the accomplishments you prepared for your marketing statement will be very useful?But be prepared to highlight the “intangible” using accomplishments. Saying you are a “good team player, good communicator, hard worker, cultural fit, internally motivated” with no context is hollow.
Rule 4. Be prepared for a resume review. The key will be to understand your career moves. Why you made the decision you have made.
Always key on the positive – for example, I left A to go to a better opportunity at A. Never be negative – for example, I could not stand my boss is a no no.
Be ready to answer the though questions, but be truthful. Be positive at all times.
Rule 5. Listening is harder and more important.
We were given two ears and only one mouth. Make sure you are engaged and when the interviewer is speaking you make it obvious that you are listening.
Rule 6. No Me Questions.
Bring up nothing that relates to you. Like “what is the pay” or “How much vacation do I get”…. These questions leave a very negative impression.
Rule 7. Do your homework. Blessed will be those that do their homework! Know everything in the public domain about the company. Read their web page or accounts if available.
Rule 8. Understand the objective.
Sometimes it is to continue the interview process and get a follow up interview, sometimes it is the decision maker interviewing you and you are trying to land the job.
You need to make sure you keep in mind what you are trying to answer:
Do you understand the opportunity? - ask good questions
Can you do the job?
Do you want the job?
Rule 9. Always be prepared to ask good questions.
Never pass on an opportunity to ask questions, the quality of your questions will greatly help your status.
Prepare questions before hand, use these 3 categories to help you:
- Questions about the job / opportunity
- Questions about the company, however never ask something that is publicly available.
- Questions about the interviewer, how about testing them with “tell me about yourself”
- What would you expect me to achieve in the first 6 months?
- Is there anything I can tell you about my qualifications that I haven’t said yet?
- What are the principal challenges I would face in this job?
- Why do you like working here?
Rule 10. Never forget Rule 1, it’s all about them!